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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Your Dying Spouse 218 - Solitude and Isolation

We're linked with Messy Marriage's From Messes To Messages; please visit for some outstanding marriage resources.

If you're a caregiver to a spouse who has become housebound, you've probably noticed a kind of social withdrawal; a reluctance to participate in the events and activities (such as friends' visits) of which the patient can still partake.

From personal experience, I think there are several reasons for this, and I'd like to share them without trying to pass a value judgement.

Communication becomes harder as illness gets worse. Once a patient reaches the point of being housebound (or largely so) the ability to communicate well has probably been impaired. For me, it hurts to talk, and sitting or standing quietly when chatting is a trial. I have to shift position constantly to 'get away from' the pain to the greatest degree possible. It's kind of embarrassing.

Also, once you fall away from regular conversation, it's hard to keep up. I find that my thoughts do not run at the same speed as even those of my wife, so when she tries to talk with me she has to slow everything down. It's uncomfortable for her, and I can see that.

Paradigms change. There are several television shows that Barbara enjoys - The Voice, and some comedy/variety programmes. I've lost the ability to understand the humour, and so have lost an avenue of communication. For a while I tried to stay up to speed, but it was a failing task, and one day Barbara said that if she had to keep explaining the point to me it ruined the humour for her. That's a good point, one I did not realize, and I knew then that it was time to accept that as a step away from The World.

I'm no longer growing. My wife is being challenged in her work to grow and adapt to a world that changing technologically and in its customs. I'm not. No one cares if I know how to use a SmartPhone or not,much less be sensitive to the finer points of Human Resource Management. I might choose to teach myself Farsi, or (a couple of years ago, can't do it now) juggle, but it has no practical use.

So I've stopped growing, stopped learning. Sure, I read a lot, but it's mostly to boost my morale, and keep me hopeful and optimistic. It's not for greater wisdom; it's to survive the day.

Not much to say. My days are pretty consistent, as there's not much I can do. I write, less now to be sure, but there's not much interest in talking about what I'm writing, or would like to write if I ever have the energy again.

I like solitude. While some might not consider a houseful of dogs solitude, for me it is. We are on the same wavelength; we of different species can be alone together. People are jarring; not an unwelcome intrusion, but certainly a change from the kind of stillness I usually inhabit.

These are just some thoughts on why someone who's very ill can seem to have withdrawn from life. What do you think? Are these reasons valid, or is there an element of self-justification? Please speak freely!

A quick note - the price for Emerald Isle has been reduced from $9.99 to $4.99 for the time being. How long 'the time being' will be I don't rightly now. But it costs less for now.

AngelaFaith In The Night, and PTSD And The Holidays are still 99 cents on Kindle.

Much to my surprise, I decided to participate in a '31 Days' blogging exercise; rather than interrupt the flow of this post, I have another blog established, "Starting The Day With Grace". The focus is a grace quote from someone you might not expect (like, say Malcolm X) and a short commentary. I hope you'll join me.

Marley update...he's received a lot of support, but STILL NEEDS HELP TO BE SAVED.


He's up to nearly 200,000 signatures, but the local authorities are dragging their feet. They think that we'll give up and go away. We won't.

If you have a mment, I'd like to ask you to visit Change.org to consider a petition to free a 'death row dog' who has been separated from his family for ten months over a misunderstanding. Marley was saved from Afghanistan by a US serviceman; please help make sure this story doesn't end in needless tragedy! Marley's gotten a lot of support...but he still needs our help.

If you can, please do leave a comment. I am trying to answer all, and I am failing, but please know this - I read and treasure each one.

Below are my recent releases on Kindle -please excuse their presence in the body of the blog. I haven't the energy to get them up as 'buttons' in the sidebar. You can click on the covers to go to the Amazon links.


  1. Andrew, circumstances dictate so much of life. Today I was searching the edjoin site looking at reading teacher jobs bc my life is making another change since I won't be farming any longer. It's been four years since I taught, I've backtracked socially during this time, less involved in public life. It makes me feel out in left field, alone and unsure. One begins to feel outside the loop. Oh well. It will be interesting. And it will be good for me.
    Lack of engagement with others and learning must be frustrating for a curious and eager mind, like yours. I wish it could be different for you. Bless you.

    1. Norma, I sure understand. I hope you'll document how your re-entry goes.

      lack of personal engagement was frustrating at first, but now, having realized that I simply can't keep up in person, I'm at peace.

      Thanks so much for being here!

  2. it must be so difficult, andrew, and you are doing all you can and that is enough. for all of us, that is the same - we are given just so much and when we act on that much, whatever it is, that is what God expects and appreciates. may you know His strength and peace today.

    1. Sue, thank you for this. Indeed, all we can do is, for God, enough.

      I truly appreciate your being here today.

  3. I'm with you ... I enjoy solitude ... it feeds my soul and refocuses me so that when I am in the company of others I may have a bit more to offer.

    I hear what you're saying, Andrew, yet when I read your posts and your comments here and there on other sites, you continue to offer a unique wisdom, often a fresh perspective, a needed word.

    Please know that even in this valley season, you still matter, your words impact the hearts and minds of others.

    1. Linda, thank you so much for your grace-filled words; they've really made my day. I do my best through this medium, because it's really all I have. (Well, unless you're a stray dog, when I can give you a hug and some biscuits and a forever home with a LOT of noisy brothers and sisters.)

      I always enjoyed solitude, so the transition isn't as hard as it might have been. But I do see the changes in my ablity to relate "in person", and those are sometimes unsettling.

      Thanks so much for being here.

  4. I'm really resonating with what you post today, Andrew, as I've encountered these same challenges with my shingles--especially when I'm at the active pain stage in a day. It really quietens down by late morning and my afternoons are fairly pleasant, but by evening and during the night--on into morning--I feel like I have an ever-tightening vice on my side that wants to crack my ribs. Very hard to concentrate or enjoy the things I normally do when not in intense pain. ;-)

    But I do want to say that I see that you are growing each time you write. You find new angles to approach your situation and offer all of us hope in stressful moments in life and marriage. You may feel like you're regurgitating the same old, same old but you are not! You are stretching and growing every time you write, my friend! There's a lot of life that still emanates from you, my friend, for which we are all very grateful!

    1. Beth, my prayers are so with you! I've never had shingles, but it sounds just a bit like malaria...there are times when you feel almost normal, but you know the fever will start to rise again soon and there are miserable hours ahead.

      I really appreciate your words concerning what I write. There have been times when I felt like I was digging from the same hole, but I always had the feeling that it was the right place to dig, as I could go deeper. I'd much rather be blogging about, say, unicorns, but this is evidently where the Almighty wants me.

      I'm glad to be here, and glad you are here today too, my friend.

  5. Wait a minute...you're doing Write 31? I've been in a cave.

    1. It was a kind of last-minute-what-the-hey thing. No worries. I'm just having fun with it...I mean, grace quotes from Margaret Thatcher and Mick Jagger and John Fogarty and Admiral Sergei Gorchkov? How can that be anything but fun?

  6. Andrew, your commentary on your transition to Glory is providing great help to me as I try to re-capture the last days of my father for my WIP. He was 61; I was 11, the oldest of 3 boys, when he passed.

    1. Brick, please excuse the long delay in responding to your comment; your words mean a great deal to me, perhaps more than any comment I have ever received.